Nick Willis controlled the first heat of the 1500m from the front winning in 3:40.76 to proceed to tomorrow’s final. Jeff Riseley of Australia was second in 3:40.79.
Julian Matthews requiring to finish in the first four in his second heat was just piped on the line by Welsh runner Chris Gowell for the fourth place. Luckily Matthews had drawn the fastest of the two heats and his fifth place time of 3:40.33 had him through to the final. New Zealand’s third runner in the heats Zane Robertson was in the first heat and lacked the sting in the final 200m finishing seventh in 3:43.02, missing out on being one of the next four fastest for the final by 1.39s.
Both Willis and Robertson were through the mixed zone super-fast but Matthews said that he was trying to get the automatic spot.
“I’m very very happy with that and really looking forward to the final. The game plan was just to stick on the rail as I had one of the slowest PB’s going into the race so I knew I had to keep as much energy as I could for the last 400m, it just worked out perfectly I got an awesome start, right behind the two Kenyans blocking the wind for me, relaxed throughout till the 400m which I knew was going to happen,” said Matthews.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be running with Nick (in the final) he’s been a hero of mine my whole career, awesome I’m just so happy.”
Matthews who has been in the Games Village since 22 July said that he was exhausted just keeping his nerves at bay leading up to the heats.
“The crowd was crazy, it’s my first big race for New Zealand, I couldn’t be happier with the result.”
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent